‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh Released From Prison After 17 Years
John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” the first U.S.-born militant in the war on terror, has been released from prison after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.
Lindh was released early for good behavior, and his release has sparked fierce criticism from many who believe he still harbors his extremist views.
Lindh was born in Washington, D.C., in 1981 and was raised by a Catholic father and a Buddhist mother. He dropped out of school and converted to Islam at the age of 16, moving to Yemen to learn Arabic.
His studies took him to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he joined the Taliban in May 2001. He was shortly captured after the invasion and pleaded guilty to aiding and carrying weapons for the Taliban.
At his sentencing in 2002, Lindh said he joined the Taliban because he supported its form of Islam, and that he was prepared to fight against its rivals in Afghanistan. He had no intentions to fight against Americans.
“I have never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism or terrorism. I condemn terrorism on every level, unequivocally,” he told the court.
However, some reports and government documents claim that Lindh still supports radical islam.
The Atlantic journalist Graeme Wood said he talked to Lindh while he was in prison and alleges that Lindh spoke positively about the Islamic State.
Lindh was also among the hundreds of Taliban soldiers who surrendered to the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance in November 2001. While held at the military compound, the Taliban prisoners launched an uprising that killed CIA paramilitary officer Mike Spann.
Lindh said he was never part of the uprising, and he was never charged in the involvement of Spann’s death.
Spann’s family remains critical and his daughter, Alison, made a plea to the president asking that Lindh should serve his full sentence.
“I feel his early release is a slap in the face — not only to my father and my family, but for every person killed on Sept. 11th, their families, the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence services, families who have lost loved ones to this war and the millions of Muslims worldwide who don’t support radical extremists,” said Alison.
I wrote this letter to @POTUS asking that the early release of John Walker Lindh be stopped. He’s going to be released on May 23, despite reports that he has continued to “advocate for global jihad.” This is not a reformed prisoner… pic.twitter.com/HVOryefVIE
— Alison Spann (@newsgirlalison) May 21, 2019
The conditions of Lindh’s probation includes: he will be closely monitored, he’ll need permission to go on the internet, he’s required to receive counseling, and he’s not allowed to travel.